Saturday, 31 May 2014

Carrying the load

As many villages in the rural parts of Nepal are only reached on foot, transporting most things to these places has to be done by man-power, or often woman-power! Many of these village people are incredibly strong and carry loads I would struggle to even lift.  How far could you carry a large bag of cement?

Loads are frequently transported in a basket called a 'doko', which is carried by a strap which goes across the forehead. For the people who carry doko the muscles in the neck must develop over time to become very strong.  Some children as young as 7 or 8 years already carry lighter loads of straw or leaves for their families.  I have seen even younger children playing at carrying loads, with small bags on their backs and handles across their foreheads.

Wood is needed for cooking by many village communities and I often see people carrying doko stacked with logs, bringing them down from the hills.  (I'll never complain again about having to carry a small basket of logs into my house in UK for my wood-burning fire.) As village people fell and use the nearby trees, over time they have to travel ever greater distances to fetch the wood they need.There is concern that this wood use is not sustainable, but people need fuel for their cooking fires.

Doko are frequently used to assist with agriculture; to transport fodder for animals, seed or seedlings for planting or to take rotted manure out to the fields.  This spring I have seen many fields dotted with cone-shaped piles of manure, but  I find it hard to imagine the smell one has to endure while carrying a basket of manure! (Sadly they haven't yet invented a way of adding particular smells to a blog, have they? Shame!!)
A doko of maize

A basket of dried grass

When a house is to be built, bags of cement, sand or loads of bricks may need to be carried quite a distance to the building site, often uphill.  Frequently women carry these heavy loads, whilst the men do the actual construction.

Although doko are for sale in shops in towns, in many villages doko are made when the old ones are falling apart and new ones are needed.  The photos below show ones being made in a village.

Beautifully made and very strong too.
Besides carrying, these baskets are incredibly versatile and are put to many other uses - containers for chicks or hens and litter bins to name but two. 

Just another everyday way that the people of Nepal use their natural resources.
Pheri bheTaulaa  (see you again)
(Many thanks to Helen for the use of some of her photos.)

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